I have owned 2 McIntosh CDP's in the past (MCD201 & MVP871). Did not care for either, even though they were used in a McIntosh system. There are much better players out there for the same price. Just my opinion.
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If I understand correctly the McIntosh sales literature, both players use the same DAC and transport.
The transport reads at 4x speed and corrects errors on the fly.
The MCD 301 implements a cast aluminum box surrounding the transport, in order to reduce motor noise.
I have auditioned an MCD 201 and for the price, it is an excellent sounding CD player, even better on SACD.
I have auditioned the 201 and the MVP871. At the time of the 201 audition, I also listened to a Marantz DV7600. The McIntosh was only better in the upper reaches and really not by much. I couldn't justify paying $2,500 for the 201 when I could get the DV7600 for around $900. And it played DVDs pretty well too. I heard that the 301 was significantly better but it was well outside my budget and never bothered with an audition. I brought home an 871 last year for a weekend audition and it was very magical. Very beautiful sound. But I decided that it really wasn't what I wanted. The video was really only insignificantly better than the DV7600 that I ended up buying. So I passed on it and got a Cambridge Audio 840C and a Marantz BD7003 and they do double duty in my HT/2 Channel rig now. Today, you can get an 871 for a steal. It really is a great player. I know that user Smholl above didn't care for it, but I really liked it allot. It is a very revealing and musical player. If your looking for warm, well, it probably isn't your player. I do beleive that I've read that the 871 is in the same league as the 301 as far as SQ goes and it can do video too (if that is a plus for you). Good luck in your search.